(April 2) – A three-year extension of one of the state’s most successful job development programs took its first step through the legislative process this afternoon.
HB18-1316, sponsored by Reps. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, and Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs, has bipartisan sponsorship in the state Senate. The bill extends the Skilled Worker, Outreach, Recruitment and Key Training (WORK) grant program, which was created in 2015 to address one of the key problems in Colorado’s career training programs – students who are not heading to college but are unaware of great-paying career options and the pathways to get there.
The WORK Act provided $10 million in grants over three years to partnerships between industry and education institutions for industry training programs, leading to good careers for thousands of Coloradans. HB18-1316 extends the program for another three years with an additional $10 million in funding split over three years.
“We’ve had nearly 15,000 people come through this program over the course of the last three years,” Rep. Pabon said. “It’s been wildly successful in giving a multitude of folks from different parts of the state an opportunity to not just have a job, but a career.”
WORK Act grants can only be used for marketing to and recruitment of students for career training programs, not tuition reimbursement. The private sector, which has strongly supported the WORK Act, must pay all the other costs.
“We have seen industries such as construction, healthcare, IT and solar utilize this program with great success,” Rep. Exum told the House Finance Committee. “It’s a worthwhile investment to improve the quality of life for a lot of individuals who are willing to work hard when given the opportunity.”
The committee voted 11-2 to advance the bill to the Appropriations Committee.